Microsoft unveils its new Windows 8 operating system
Microsoft has taken the wraps off the
next generation of its Windows operating system.
Windows 8 is designed to run on tablet computers, as well as desktop and
The software, which is due to be released in 2012 will work on the popular
ARM-designed low power processors for the first time.
Microsoft has been under pressure to come up with an answer to Apple’s iOS
and Google’s Android platforms.
Unveiling Windows 8 at the Build developers’ conference in California,
Windows division president Steven Sinofsky declared: “We re-imagined Windows.
From the chipset to the user experience.”
The system will function through one of two interfaces; a traditional
desktop, similar to that seen in previous editions of Windows, and a tablet
version, known as Metro.
Metro features larger, chunky controls of the sort that best suit touchscreen
use. The current lack of such an input method is widely seen as the reason why
few Windows 7 tablets exist.
Microsoft said that it would also be launching its own online marketplace –
the Windows Store – to sell downloadable applications.
One of the biggest innovations for Windows 8 will be its compatibility with
processors designed by ARM holdings.
be used on touchscreen devices
Chips based around the ARM architecture typically use very little power, and
as a result are found in the vast majority of smartphones and tablets currently
To date, Windows devices have required Intel or Intel-compatible processors,
with the exception of Microsoft’s Windows Phone range.
ARM chips are likely to be predominantly used on Windows 8 Metro devices, and
will require ARM-specific versions of applications.
The company has not given details on the chips that will be integrated into
desktop and laptop machines.
Tapping into any section of the Windows market will be seen as a huge boost
for Cambridge-based ARM Holdings.
The company faces growing competition in the mobile device sector since Intel
launched its tablet and smartphone-focused Oak Trail chipset in April 2011.
Tapping into that particular market is seen as vital for hardware
manufacturers, and software-makers, such as Microsoft, as the market for
traditional computers continues to be eroded.
Industry analysts Gartner predicted in April that the global market for
tablets would reach 70 million this year, and grow to 300 million in 2015.
Sales of desktops and laptops are expected to continue growing, but at a much
slower rate than in the past.